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Upgrade: Cold cathode swapped into flourescent mount
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Steelhead
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:49 pm    Post subject: Upgrade: Cold cathode swapped into flourescent mount Reply with quote

I finally fixed that useless overhead flourescent light once and for all. I'd been talking about too long over on the Bay board (thanks to Catfish for the reminder).
Cold Cathode bulbs are brighter, more efficient, more durable, and longer lasting than traditional flourescent lights (they can also be dimmed). They are also being made in 12" length with a 12v inverter that I imagined might fit into the old flourescent bracket. It worked way better than I expected. So here is the process:

The kit I bought was designed to trick out desktop computer cases (http://www.coolerguys.com/840556012009.html). Because they were cheap I got 2 sets (this turned out to be a good idea). One set pictured below - notice extra wiring and switch for a computer application. Trimmed this back so it was only the two tubes, the inverter and the power leads.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The antique flourescent still mounted:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Snip power/ground. Uscrewed the the bracket (2 screws). Careful not to drop the thick clear plastic washer/spacers between the bracket and headliner.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Gutted the bracket except power switch and switch leads. Besides a few rivets, everything broke out pretty easily.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Used some silver metal tape to line the back of the bracket for improved reflection (using the highly reflective safety tape would probably be even better). Tied power lead into the original switch.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Then mounted the inverter and tubes using the little pieces of velcro that came with the kit. No velcro for the inverter (it gets held in by the bracket cover). Power/ground run out the big hole and covered with more tape.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Foolishly attached power and ground backwards (which of course fried inverter #1). Glad I had a backup! Remounted with spacers between bracket and headliner for the oh-so-important original look (sarcasm).
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Presto! It works! The light is nice and bright (this pic actually makes it look obnoxiously bright, which it isn't).
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Project difficulty level: 2
Fun-per-dollar: 10
Overall satisfaction: 9 (the light from cold cathodes isn't as warm halogens, which would be my first choice).

Next project with cold cathodes will be a set under the rear bench, including dimmer and pressure switches (so when the bench is lifted the storage is instantly lit). Then when the bed is pulled out they will cast a nice indirect "street glow" on the floor below (w/dimmer for nightlight etc).
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Last edited by Steelhead on Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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msinabottle
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:15 pm    Post subject: Very Nice! Reply with quote

What a useful and thorough post!

I thought about going to a Cold Cathode array when I replaced Winston's horrid INCANDESCENT with the twin LED arrays I've got mounted now. Decided the LED's were marginally more cost and power effective.

I stuck a central flourescent at the 'parlor' end of the bed. That lights up the whole mid-section of the van. Your rig, though, is very nice indeed, and thank you so much for the useful post and careful illustrations!

Best!
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Wellington
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steelhead, fantastic!
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to warm the light quality you could line the lens with a theatrical lighting gel, not really a gel but a thin plastic filter material, to bring a little yellow back into the light.
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Steelhead
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just found this yellow cold cathode set (http://www.pctoys.com/840556057109.html). This might be a nice color....maybe mix and match one yellow and one white? Ok, fine...I'll give it shot.
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VWGeorge
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, we use that lamp on the "Fast And Furious, Tokyo Drift" Arcade Game that my Employer builds.
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thirdman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a nifty idea. Props!
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brooklynvanagon
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just did this mod, I think it's not as bright as the 8w flo that was in there but sure to be battery friendly.

http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZoznium925

~$13 for 2 sets. Didn't come with velcro tho. I had my own so no problem.

Really quick to dismount, drill the rivets and reinstall. Black was POS on my van. The inverters are supposed to be protected however.
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Steelhead
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tested again, and I noticed that these lights really take a 15 -30 seconds to reach full brightness. I'm always a little disappointed at first, but surprised when I walk away and come back to see how bright they are. Once they are warm they turn off and and really quickly. they behave like LCD monitors, etc.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm quite happy with the one I fitted into the '78. I'll be adding one into the engine compartment when it warms up. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:32 pm    Post subject: Double check on + and ground colors? Reply with quote

Hey Steelhead,

I like this so much I bought a light kit for myself after my stock light stopped working. Nice job. Looking forward to seeing if I can get it to work.

I am not great with electronic stuff, but I just wanted to make sure I got the colors strait so I don't fry the inverter like you did your first time.

So from the looks of it....is the black wire the ground for the vechicle and the yellow the + ?

Thanks and hope you are still checking this post

-jeff
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a914622
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats cool!!

So, not having seen them in action i have to ask the guys that have.
Do you think the light in red would work as a 3rd brake light??? Im thinking maybe at the bottom of the window with a little shroud? Do they come on fast enough? do they look like repeated on and off would burn out ???


jcl
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jacob.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

a914622 wrote:
Thats cool!!

So, not having seen them in action i have to ask the guys that have.
Do you think the light in red would work as a 3rd brake light??? Im thinking maybe at the bottom of the window with a little shroud? Do they come on fast enough? do they look like repeated on and off would burn out ???


jcl


Why not just use LED. You will replace every other part of your van before you replace that. And more efficient too.
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OrganicMechanic
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jacob. wrote:
a914622 wrote:
Thats cool!!

So, not having seen them in action i have to ask the guys that have.
Do you think the light in red would work as a 3rd brake light??? Im thinking maybe at the bottom of the window with a little shroud? Do they come on fast enough? do they look like repeated on and off would burn out ???


jcl


Why not just use LED. You will replace every other part of your van before you replace that. And more efficient too.


LED have a narrow angle of use. They light small areas well but leave a bit for room lighting.
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jacob.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The super bright LED's are plenty bright enough to use as interior lights, and brake lights.
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Steelhead
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:34 am    Post subject: Re: Double check on + and ground colors? Reply with quote

jpufnock wrote:
Hey Steelhead,

I like this so much I bought a light kit for myself after my stock light stopped working. Nice job. Looking forward to seeing if I can get it to work.

I am not great with electronic stuff, but I just wanted to make sure I got the colors strait so I don't fry the inverter like you did your first time.

So from the looks of it....is the black wire the ground for the vechicle and the yellow the + ?

Thanks and hope you are still checking this post

-jeff


You got it. The black is ground and the yellow is +. The yellow I added to tie into the original switch (would be better to be red if you want to keep it straight and simple). If you have a voltmeter test the leads coming off the van before attaching, just to be certain.

w/r/t the questions of using as brake lights....they do take a second to warm up initially, though are instant on/off after that. So around town they would work fine, but if you were highway driving and jammed the brake after a long period of inactivity, there might be a momentary delay. I don't think they would burn out quickly, but certainly LEDs would last longer and come on faster the first time.

BTW...I used this light a lot this last weekend camping. It really is the workhorse of my myriad aftermarket light sources.
GLTA
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Jamos
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My flourescent is going out (not sure if it's the ballast or the lamp), but I decided to place an order for some white cold cathode lights to do the swap as Steelhead shows.

Hopefully they are nice and bright!

I've been using an orangish gel (filter) even with the flourescent light, just to warm it up a bit. (If anyone wants a gel, just let me know)

I'll post some pics when I get the cathodes in there!
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Jamos
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I put one of the cathode kits into the floury enclosure today...
Turned out very well!


The kit I got looked almost exactly like the one pictured above (and only cost about $6!). Two tubes and the little blue inverter box. I mounted the tubes and box with a little industrial strength velcro, and it all fits in the enclosure perfectly.

I'd say the light output is pretty damn close to the same as the stock flourescent. They do "warm up" after a minute or so, just like the floury.

Overall I'm pleased.

Anyone know how the actual power consumption is with these cold cathode tubes vs. an 8w flourescent bulb?

Thanks again to Steelhead for the idea. I never would have thought about using these as a replacement!
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Steelhead
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jamos wrote:
Anyone know how the actual power consumption is with these cold cathode tubes vs. an 8w flourescent bulb?


Nice....glad to hear it worked out for you. Re: your power question, maybe someone else can translate from the following description, but it looks like 8.88W, which would be inline with flourescents. Not sure if that spec is for one bulb or two. If cold cathodes do in fact generate more light per watt, that would mean these are technically brighter - or am I oversimplifying?

Specifications:
Low power consumption( 620mA), low heat, excellent lighting characteristics and vibration proofed
Dimensions: 300mm x 4mm
Tube Voltage: 620V .74 Amps (8.88 watts)
Avg Brightness: 29000 cd/m2
Very, Very Bright
Average life: 30,000 hrs
Dual sealed transformers
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The specs on mine were very similar:

* Tube diameter: 3.0mm
* Tube length: 300mm
* Input voltage of inverter: 12v
* Output voltage of inverter: 680v
* Current draw: 5.0mAv
* Brightness: 28,000~30,000 cd/mē
* Lifetime: 30,000 hours

I'm pretty amazed that those little transformers step-up the voltage to upwards of 600 volts!

Still looking for info about the power, but I did find this interesting graph that shows brightness vs. time.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
[/img]
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